On the list of days that should rightfully be holidays, Opening Day has to rank at the top. I have so many great memories of Opening Day- mostly involving getting out of school for the day to go to the game with my Dad- that it’ll always be an incredibly special day. Even when I knew the Giants were going to be awful, Opening Day was always a time for good feelings and hope. Like in 2008, I remember thinking to myself “Well, if Dave Roberts stays healthy, and Brian Bocock plays well, and Jose Castillo starts to hit, they might be pretty good!” Nothing supports delusion quite like Opening Day.
The Giants had their home opener yesterday, a 5-4 extra innings victory over the Cardinals. The same thing happened in last year’s home opener- a 5-4 extra innings victory- and the Giants won the World Series. Obviously, that means it’s going to happen again this year. It’s just logic.
A few thoughts on the game:
- The pregame ceremonies were very cool, especially the Giants walking out as a team through the center field fence amidst a cloud of smoke. Seeing the World Series championship banner raised in the outfield was one of my all-time highlights as a Giants fan. The only low point for me was the performance from Train, one of the most annoying bands in the world. The fact that the Giants made the Cardinals stand and wait through the entire performance was unbelievably low-class; not because it forced them to stand and wait, but because it forced them to listen to Train.
- Jonathan Sanchez had a rough start, but managed to right himself and pitch well. Sanchez gave us glimpses of his good and bad self yesterday: he reminded everyone of why many consider him to have the best natural stuff on the staff, and also of why he can be so incredibly frustrating at times. I’ve come to terms with the fact that Sanchez is probably going to be that type of pitcher for the rest of his career. We just have to hope for more good than bad.
- I’m not entirely ready to buy into Pablo Sandoval’s hot start just yet- remember he hit for a blistering .368/.433/.575 line last April- but there’s no denying he looks like a different hitter than he did throughout most of 2010. He had his second straight 3-hit game yesterday, raising his average to .444. He also came through with a huge single to tie the game in the bottom of the 9th, an encouraging sign considering his .208 average with runners in scoring position last year.
- Bruce Bochy made a few questionable calls yesterday that nearly cost the Giants the game. The first was letting Jeremy Affeldt hit for himself in the bottom of the 7th with a man on 1st and the Giants holding a 3-1 lead. I realize Bochy wanted a left hander on the mound to nullify the Cardinals’ bench full of lefty hitters, but he still had Dan Runzler and Javier Lopez in the bullpen at that point. It was hard to understand why he’d let a middle reliever hit in that spot. The other call that didn’t make a lot of sense was letting Albert Pujols hit with a runner in scoring position and 1st base open in the 8th inning. Pujols ended up driving in the run, cutting the Giants’ lead to 1 and allowing the Cardinals to take the lead the next inning. If there’s one hitter in the Cardinals’ lineup that shouldn’t be allowed to beat you it’s Pujols, especially considering Matt Holliday isn’t hitting behind him right now.
- Brian Wilson still doesn’t look 100%, and his lack of innings pitched this spring is really starting to show. He may have been squeezed a bit by the home plate umpire, but the facts remain that Wilson’s breaking stuff wasn’t breaking and his control just wasn’t there. I don’t doubt that Wilson will work out the kinks, but it sure looks like he may have benefited from a minor league rehab assignment before coming off the DL.
- Aaron Rowand is making it harder to cut him when Cody Ross comes back. I’m hopeful he’s also making it easier to trade him.
Finally, here are a few pictures I managed to snap yesterday. Enjoy.